(This post was originally published on 11/09/17, but was migrated here 7/25.)
Today I’m thirty-friggin-three, and I’m struggling with this one a bit. I woke up on my 31st and 32nd birthdays with this “I’ve arrived” feeling, but this year’s tone is much more “Where the eff am I?”
Sara M. Lyons said it best on her Instagram recently when she wrote “OH GOD, I thought I’d have it figured out by now!” // What I thought THEN would encompass my life NOW was a true miscalculation, and when I was younger, I figured 33 was ‘Official Adult Age’ for sure – and that I’d be doing ‘official adult’ things… like, live in a house and be married and have kids and a blossoming career that highlighted my talents.
Growing up, I carried around with me this naive, overwhelming notion that as long as I did everything ‘right’ this fulfilling, undramatic adulthood filled with bursting moments of clarity and freedom and fun would naturally fall into place. If I went to college, said ‘no’ to drugs, kept my eyes & ears opened, listened to authority figures (a.k.a people who ‘knew better than me’), pursued what I was naturally interested in, worked hard, stayed enthusiastic and friendly, followed rules, fell in love — all of it — if I was good, true, and did it all ‘right’ (this stupid idea of a ‘correct formula’ or ‘brownie points for good behavior’) then I would have a relatively problem-free grown-up existence of nothing but achievements and recognition of them.
I’m writing this post from bed on the morning of my 33rd birthday to tell you, dear reader, that this people-pleasing goodie-two-shoes with a heart too big for her own good, who doesn’t have a rebellious bone in her body and ‘did everything right’ has failed, squandered, felt stuck, started over more times than she can count, has a permanent spot in the underdog chair, and is stilltrying to figure it out. I think I’m one of those people who will ALWAYS be in a state of figuring it out, and it’s actually not a bad feeling. It’s scary, but it’s going to be okay, and I know I’m DEFINITELY not alone in feeling like this.
Time feels like it’s sprinting. I am well aware of this, and I feel like Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny when she stomps her foot in that head-to-toe floral jumpsuit talking about her biological clock! Haa haa! // I don’t want to pretend that these next few years of my thirties won’t get swept up in this stampede of me trying to stay afloat, and figure out the next phase of my career, and make big decisions about me & John – and I have no idea where those adult milestones of house & kids will fit in or how they will get accomplished. But, I’ll be trying to figure it out. I’ll be trying to become the best version of myself with what I have in front of me at the time, and love my fellow humans and be at peace with the time it takes.
I need to trust more, I know this. I always say this, but I really just have to do this. It’s the key to things not feeling so heavy, so today, I’m deciding to trust. Trust, get out of my head and into my environment…look left, look right, focus on something (anything!) I could do in the present to make things a little lighter for myself and for others…
…and this is what I came up with: letterboard some current facts about myself at my birthday month-marker the way new moms do with babies their whole first year. Today I am 396 months old and obviously fragile and little moody, so to swing myself the other way, here’s the ridiculousness that became that letterboard creation:
It came out cute. // Lately I can’t decide between being low key or lower key, and I predict this to be a recurring theme of 33. I’ve been doing simple, little acts of self-care that have felt like free birthday presents to myself this week, some of which have been: lighting a candle, extending deadlines and giving myself more time, reading, writing, napping, calling my Grandma, and this…ladies and gentlemen, I give you my heart & soul, in tiny party hats:
So eff it! Cheers 33! …with all your thoughts and feelings and ridiculousness at the start! You’re just another number, you’re just another season, and I choose to count it all in joy. // PS – me, at 29 sounds soooo similar.